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Omnibus Speaker Series

Lineup for 2023–24 Omnibus Speaker Series at Purdue Fort Wayne unveiled

By Blake Sebring

August 29, 2023

The 28th season of Purdue University Fort Wayne’s popular Omnibus Speaker Series will entertain and inform the university community with topics that explore national politics, artificial intelligence, presidential history, breaking through NFL barriers, and how one famous actor turned his “office” experiences into discussions that dig deep into some of life’s biggest questions.  

“We are thrilled to have such a stellar lineup of speakers representing such a broad range of topics and interests,” said Jerry Lewis, vice chancellor for communications and marketing at Purdue Fort Wayne. “The Omnibus Speaker Series provides an opportunity to bring together our campus community and the broader Fort Wayne community to experience the rich diversity of thought, perceptions, and experiences that our outstanding speakers bring to the mix.”

Everything kicks off Sept. 21 with “An Evening with Rainn Wilson.” As one of the co-founders of the digital media company SoulPancake, the multi-faceted, Emmy-nominated actor who often portrays unique characters on the small and big screens has spent years exploring the ways we all seek connection, hope, truth, identity and purpose. For nine years, Wilson played the iconic Dwight Schrute on “The Office,” and his work includes “Lessons in Chemistry” for Apple TV+, the movie “Jerry & Marge Go Large,” and the unscripted series “Rainn Wilson and the Geography of Bliss” for Peacock.

Cybersecurity expert and the first female White House chief information officer under President George W. Bush, Theresa Payton will come to campus Nov. 7 to discuss “How AI/ChatGPT is Shaping the Cyber Landscape.” A digital world visionary as an inventor of new security designs, Payton’s experiences as a veteran cybercrime fighter and entrepreneur provide memorable anecdotes and cutting-edge insights. She currently helps private and public organizations protect their most valuable resources.

PFW’s Omnibus season continues after the start of the new year on Feb. 29 with veteran Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile discussing “Political Outlook: A Comprehensive Picture of What’s Going on in Washington.” Brazile has devoted her life to working for progressive change, responsible governance, and the advancement of all people in a society that is fair and equitable. Since 1976, she has worked with candidates during every presidential election, and in 2000 became the first Black woman to serve as the manager of a major party presidential campaign, working for former Vice President Al Gore.

After starting her football officiating career in 1996 by attending a meeting with her brother, Sarah Thomas reached the National Football League in 2015. She’ll highlight her career March 26 with “Breaking Through: My Journey to Becoming the First Female NFL Official.” She spent 10 years working games at various levels of youth football including high school, middle school, and junior varsity before being hired by Conference USA in 2007, becoming the first female official for the NCAA Major College Football Bowl Division. Thomas has officiated numerous bowl, championship, and all-star games, earning notice from NFL scouts. The upcoming season will be her ninth in the NFL.

Award-winning historian, scholar of leadership, and bestselling author of 10 books, Michael Beschloss comes to Fort Wayne on April 25 to cap off the 2023-24 Omnibus season with his topic “What History Can Predict About Our American Political Future.” Beschloss appears regularly as an NBC News presidential historian and contributor to “PBS NewsHour.” He has won an Emmy for his television work and numerous awards and honorary degrees.  His most recent book is “Presidents of War: The Epic Story, from 1807 to Modern Times,” which was published in 2018.

The Omnibus Speaker Series is underwritten by a generous contribution from the English-Bonter-Mitchell Foundation, which has sponsored every season since the series was introduced in 1995.

All Omnibus appearances start at 7:30 p.m. in the Auer Performance Hall. Tickets are free on a first-come, first-served basis. The limit is four per person, with a $1.50 convenience fee assessed per ticket for online orders.

To guarantee a seat, tickets should be reserved in advance, either online through the university’s ticketing platform, or at the Schatzlein Box Office in the Auer Performance Hall lobby. Tickets are typically released two weeks before each presentation.

All tickets reserved online can be sent directly to patrons via text message or email. These digital options are helpful when looking to avoid standing in line at the box office on the night of the show. Tickets can be picked up in person beginning one hour before the presentation.

For more information on each of the speakers – and the series itself – visit

For additional information, contact Blake Sebring at [email protected] or 260-385-0092 (mobile).